Summary: The Holy Spirit works in an orderly manner in our lives.
PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS
This letter has so many great truths in it. We are going to spend some time studying it. I trust that as we look at it together, we will learn much.
Whenever you read the Word of God you should always try to see to whom it is addressed. Is it to an individual or to a church? This will help with your understanding and interpretation of it.
The Ephesian letter is to a church. This changes the context of much of what we can first assume.
Whatever the letter is talking about it must be in the context of it having been written to a church. A group of people is to respond to it. They may have things to do personally, but it is still talking to them in relationship with others. Paul speaks of unity, and it is easy to understand how we are all to relate to one another. But when he speaks of spiritual warfare we have often looked at it as if he is speaking to us as individuals. This is not the case. We are to put on the whole armour of God as a group. There are times when we may have to fight the devil by ourselves, but in the vast majority of cases we should be fighting him as an army.
THE MAJOR THEME
Every epistle in the New Testament has one major theme. In Romans it is the story of redemption. In James it is faith and works. In Philippians it is joy.
The major theme of Ephesians is God’s work in and for us, and our response to it.
Chapters 1-3 speak of God’s work on our behalf.
Chapters 4-6 speak of our work for God.
However, there is also a progression of thought that we need to see, for it will help us in our understanding of prayer, praise, worship and spiritual warfare. I believe that the correct following of this progression will aid us in a big way. This progression concerns the main references to the work of the Holy Spirit. There is one in each chapter.
1:13-14. The Holy Spirit is the “earnest” of our inheritance. This old fashioned word means “downpayment.” He, Himself, is the downpayment who seals us, or makes us safe.
When a thing is sealed we can make some assumptions about it.
1. In the case of a bottle of water we look for a seal. The seal means that the water is pure. There is a guarantee on the contents. There has been no tampering with the contents. The suppliers of the water are saying that it was right when it left the plant. They are also telling you that it should still be o.k. when you buy it.
2. In the case of a document, a seal tells us everything in it is legal and above board. So, the downpayment of the Holy Spirit into our lives establishes that we are pure. The contents are guaranteed. They cannot be tampered with. Also, everything is legally established.
This is what took place at our conversion. Having been instructed to set us apart for God’s business the Holy Spirit did this by sealing us. He was tying us in with God on an eternal basis. Our spirit is now safe by His work in us. No longer could the devil cause us any permanent or eternal damage. God came into us and this meant that we were now the temple of God.
Only when we have accomplished this can we properly move on to the next step.
2:18 Because of the work which Jesus Christ did at Calvary we can now go into the presence of the Father. And we go into His presence by the person and the power of the Holy Spirit. Nobody can get into God’s presence unless they have taken the first step. That is why God cannot hear the prayers of a Mormon or a Muslim. They have not fulfilled the first step, so they cannot take the second one.
Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father but by me…” (John 14:6) That means in His authority. Only those who have followed step one have this authority. Others cannot get into the presence of God because the blood of Jesus does not avail for them.
The first step says that God comes into our presence. The second step says that we move into God’s presence. Because of this we can do what Paul says in Hebrews, “Let us therefore FIND come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may OBTAIN mercy, and grace to help in time of need.” (4:16)
We can go boldly into the throne room of God because the Holy Spirit is opening up the way for us. He is taking us through the door. He is presenting us to the Father.